Skip to main content Accessibility help

Successional dynamics of a regenerated forest in a plantation landscape in Southern India

  • Ashish N. Nerlekar (a1) (a2), Vignesh Kamath (a3), A. Saravanan (a1) and R. Ganesan (a1)


We monitored native forest regeneration over 11 y in a eucalyptus plantation and compared it with the neighbouring primary forest. For the plantation forest, we hypothesized that species richness, density, basal area and densities of old-growth species would increase over time, and compared to the primary forest, plantation forest would have higher species richness and density, but lower densities of old-growth species. In 2016, we repeated the protocol of a study that sampled the plantation forest in 2005, with thirty 10 × 10-m plots and enumerating trees (≥10 cm diameter), saplings (>1 to <10 cm diameter) and seedlings (<1 cm diameter). In the plantation forest, for trees, the species richness, density of gap, bird-dispersed and mammal-dispersed species increased by 67%, 156%, 116% and 238% respectively; whereas for saplings, density of gap, bird-dispersed and small-seeded species declined by 45.2%, 51% and 18.2% respectively over time; and seedling densities did not change across functional groups. Stand basal area increased by 80.1% in the plantation forest. The primary forest had 446% greater density of closed-canopy trees compared with plantation forest. Contrary to our prediction, the plantation forest did not accumulate significant densities of old-growth species over time, probably due to demographic filters that prevent them from attaining maturity.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Successional dynamics of a regenerated forest in a plantation landscape in Southern India
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Successional dynamics of a regenerated forest in a plantation landscape in Southern India
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Successional dynamics of a regenerated forest in a plantation landscape in Southern India
      Available formats


Corresponding author


Hide All
Ambinakudige, S and Sathish, BN (2009) Comparing tree diversity and composition in coffee farms and sacred forests in the Western Ghats of India. Biodiversity and Conservation 18, 9871000.
Anitha, K, Joseph, S, Chandran, RJ, Ramasamy, EV and Prasad, SN (2010) Tree species diversity and community composition in a human dominated tropical forest of Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, India. Ecological Complexity 7, 217224.
Arroyo-Rodríguez, V, Melo, FP, Martínez-Ramos, M, Bongers, F, Chazdon, RL, Meave, JA, Norde, N, Santos, BA, Leal, IR and Tabarelli, M (2017) Multiple successional pathways in human-modified tropical landscapes: new insights from forest succession, forest fragmentation and landscape ecology research. Biological Reviews 92, 326340.
Ashton, MS, Gunatilleke, CVS, Gunatilleke, IAUN, Singhakumara, BMP, Gamage, S, Shibayama, T and Tomimura, C (2014) Restoration of rain forest beneath pine plantations: a relay floristic model with special application to tropical South Asia. Forest Ecology and Management 329, 351359.
Ashton, PMS, Gamage, S, Gunatilleke, IAUN and Gunatilleke, CVS (1998) Using Caribbean pine to establish a mixed plantation: testing effects of pine canopy removal on plantings of rain forest tree species. Forest Ecology and Management 106, 211222.
Barbosa, CEDA, Benato, T, Cavalheiro, AL and Torezan, JMD (2009) Diversity of regenerating plants in reforestations with Araucaria angustifolia (Bertol.) O. Kuntze of 12, 22, 35, and 43 years of age in Paraná State, Brazil. Restoration Ecology 17, 6067.
Barlow, J, Gardner, TA, Araujo, IS, Ávila-Pires, TC, Bonaldo, AB, Costa, JE, et al. (2007) Quantifying the biodiversity value of tropical primary, secondary, and plantation forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104, 1855518560.
Bremer, LL and Farley, KA (2010) Does plantation forestry restore biodiversity or create green deserts? A synthesis of the effects of land-use transitions on plant species richness. Biodiversity and Conservation 19, 38933915.
Brockerhoff, EG, Jactel, H, Parrotta, JA, Quine, CP and Sayer, J (2008) Plantation forests and biodiversity: oxymoron or opportunity? Biodiversity and Conservation 17, 925951.
Brown, S and Lugo, AE (1990) Tropical secondary forests. Journal of Tropical Ecology 6, 132.
Chetana, HC and Ganesh, T (2012) Importance of shade trees (Grevillea robusta) in the dispersal of forest tree species in managed tea plantations of southern Western Ghats, India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 28, 187197.
Comita, LS, Queenborough, SA, Murphy, SJ, Eck, JL, Xu, K, Krishnadas, M, Beckman, N and Zhu, Y (2014) Testing predictions of the Janzen-Connell hypothesis: a meta-analysis of experimental evidence for distance-and density-dependent seed and seedling survival. Journal of Ecology 102, 845856.
Gamble, JS (1915) Flora of the Presidency of Madras. Calcutta: Secretary of State for India.
Ganesh, T (1996) Fruiting patterns among canopy trees and fruit use by vertebrates in a wet evergreen forest of the southern Western Ghats, India. PhD thesis (unpublished). Pondicherry University, Pondicherry, India. 99 pp.
Ganesh, T and Davidar, P (2001) Dispersal modes of tree species in the wet forests of southern Western Ghats. Current Science 80, 394399.
Ganesh, T, Ganesan, R, Devy, MS, Davidar, P and Bawa, KS (1996) Assessment of plant biodiversity at a mid-elevation evergreen forest of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, India. Current Science 71, 379392.
George, SJ, Kumar, BM and Rajiv, GR (1993) Nature of secondary succession in the abandoned Eucalyptus plantations of Neyyar (Kerala) in peninsular India. Journal of Tropical Forest Science 5, 372386.
Gibson, L, Lee, TM, Koh, LP, Brook, BW, Gardner, TA, Barlow, J, Peres, CA, Bradshaw, CJA, Laurance, WF, Lovejoy, TE and Sodhi, NS (2011) Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity. Nature 478, 378381.
Gonzales, RS and Nakashizuka, T (2010) Broad-leaf species composition in Cryptomeria japonica plantations with respect to distance from natural forest. Forest Ecology and Management 259, 21332140.
Gunatilleke, CVS and Ashton, PS (1987) New light on the plant geography of Ceylon. II. The ecological biogeography of the lowland endemic tree flora. Journal of Biogeography 14, 295327.
Hammer, Ø, Harper, DAT and Ryan, PD (2001) PAST (v3.0): Paleontological Statistics software package for education and data analysis. Palaeontologia Electronica 4, 19.
Harikrishnan, S, Vasudevan, K, Udhayan, A and Mathur, PK (2012) Biodiversity values of abandoned teak, Tectona grandis plantations in southern Western Ghats: is there a need for management intervention? Basic and Applied Ecology 13, 139148.
Hartmann, H, Daoust, G and Bigué, B (2010) Negative or positive effects of plantation and intensive forestry on biodiversity: a matter of scale and perspective. The Forestry Chronicle 86, 354364.
Lamb, D, Erskine, PD and Parrotta, JA (2005) Restoration of degraded tropical forest landscapes. Science 310, 16281632.
Legendre, P and De Cáceres, M (2013) Beta diversity as the variance of community data: dissimilarity coefficients and partitioning. Ecology Letters 16, 951963.
Lima, TA and Vieira, G (2013) High plant species richness in monospecific tree plantations in the Central Amazon. Forest Ecology and Management 295, 7786.
Lutz, JA, Furniss, TJ, Johnson, DJ, Davies, SJ, Allen, D, Alonso, A, et al. (2018) Global importance of large-diameter trees. Global Ecology and Biogeography 27, 849864.
Martin, PA, Newton, AC and Bullock, JM (2013) Carbon pools recover more quickly than plant biodiversity in tropical secondary forests. Proceedings of the Royal Society (B) 280, 20132236.
McCullagh, P and Nelder, JA (1989) Generalized Linear Models. Volume 37. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 513 pp.
Mohandass, D, Chhabra, T, Pannu, RS and Beng, KC (2016) Recruitment of saplings in active tea plantations of the Nilgiri Mountains: implications for restoration ecology. Tropical Ecology 57, 111118.
Osuri, AM, Chakravarthy, D, Mudappa, D, Raman, TS, Ayyappan, N, Muthuramkumar, S and Parthasarathy, N (2017) Successional status, seed dispersal mode and overstorey species influence tree regeneration in tropical rain-forest fragments in Western Ghats, India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 33, 270284.
Osuri, AM and Sankaran, M (2016) Seed size predicts community composition and carbon storage potential of tree communities in rain forest fragments in India’s Western Ghats. Journal of Applied Ecology 53, 837845.
Parrotta, JA (1993) Secondary forest regeneration on degraded tropical lands. In Lieth, H and Lohmann, M (eds), Restoration of Tropical Forest Ecosystems. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 6373.
Parrotta, JA, Knowles, OH and Wunderle, JM (1997) Development of floristic diversity in 10-year-old restoration forests on a bauxite mined site in Amazonia. Forest Ecology and Management 99, 2142.
Poorter, L, Bongers, F, Aide, TM, Zambrano, AMA, Balvanera, P, Becknell, JM, Boukili, V, et al. (2016) Biomass resilience of Neotropical secondary forests. Nature 530, 211214.
Raman, TS (2006) Effects of habitat structure and adjacent habitats on birds in tropical rainforest fragments and shaded plantations in the Western Ghats, India. In Hawksworth, DL and Bull, AT (eds), Forest Diversity and Management. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 517547.
Raman, TRS, Mudappa, D and Kapoor, V (2009) Restoring rain forest fragments: survival of mixed-native species seedlings under contrasting site conditions in the Western Ghats, India. Restoration Ecology 17, 137147.
Raman, TRS and Sukumar, R (2002) Responses of tropical rainforest birds to abandoned plantations, edges and logged forest in the Western Ghats, India. Animal Conservation 5, 201216.
Rashmi, R, Vijai, K, Waman, B, Rajagopal, K and Raj, SFH (1987) Herbaceous undergrowth in some forest habitats in Nilgiris. Indian Forester 113, 599608.
Richards, PW (1996) The Tropical Rain Forest. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 575 pp.
Russo, SE, Porrs, MD and Tan, S (2007) Determinants of tree species distributions: comparing the roles of dispersal, seed size and soil specialization in a Bornean rainforest. In Dennis, AJ, Schupp, EW, Green, AJ and Westcott, DA (eds), Seed Dispersal: Theory and its Applications in a Changing World. Wallingford: CABI, pp. 499518.
Santos, BA, Peres, CA, Oliveira, MA, Grillo, A, Alves-Costa, CP and Tabarelli, M (2008) Drastic erosion in functional attributes of tree assemblages in Atlantic forest fragments of northeastern Brazil. Biological Conservation 141, 249260.
Santo-Silva, EE, Almeida, WR, Melo, FPL, Zickel, CS and Tabarelli, M (2013) The nature of seedling assemblages in a fragmented tropical landscape: implications for forest regeneration. Biotropica 45, 386394.
Schnitzer, SA and Bongers, F (2011) Increasing liana abundance and biomass in tropical forests: emerging patterns and putative mechanisms. Ecology Letters 14, 397406.
Selwyn, MA and Ganesan, R (2009) Evaluating the potential role of Eucalyptus plantations in the regeneration of native trees in southern Western Ghats, India. Tropical Ecology 50, 173189.
Srimathi, A, Schmerbeck, J and Gärtner, S (2012) Regeneration of Shola tree species under Eucalyptus plantations in Upper Palni Hills. In Naudiyal, N, Schmerbeck, J and Kumar, N (eds), Land-use Related Biodiversity in India. Delhi: TERI University, pp. 811.
Srinivas, V, Venugopal, PD and Ram, S (2008) Site occupancy of the Indian giant squirrel Ratufa indica (Erxleben) in Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India. Current Science 95, 889894.
Stewart, R and Balcar, T (2003) Restoration of southern Indian shola forests: realising community-based forest conservation in the Palni Hills of the Western Ghats. Social Change 33, 115128.
Tomimura, C, Singhakumara, BMP and Ashton, PMS (2012) Pattern and composition of secondary succession beneath Caribbean pine plantations of southwest Sri Lanka. Journal of Sustainable Forestry 31, 818834.
Varghese, M, Harwood, CE, Bush, DJ, Baltunis, B, Kamalakannan, R, Suraj, PG, Hegde, D and Meder, R (2017) Growth and wood properties of natural provenances, local seed sources and clones of Eucalyptus camaldulensis in southern India: implications for breeding and deployment. New Forests 48, 6782.
Watson, JE, Evans, T, Venter, O, Williams, B, Tulloch, A, Stewart, C, et al. (2018) The exceptional value of intact forest ecosystems. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2, 599610.
Zar, JH (1999) Biostatistical Analysis, Fourth edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 564 pp.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Successional dynamics of a regenerated forest in a plantation landscape in Southern India

  • Ashish N. Nerlekar (a1) (a2), Vignesh Kamath (a3), A. Saravanan (a1) and R. Ganesan (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.